4 Crucial Mistakes Online Side-Hustlers Make — Without Even Noticing

Fortunately, we live in a world where you can exit your 9–5 job slowly — without the need to fully take a head-on, risky leap.

In the past, if you wanted to work for yourself, chances are you would need:

  • A business plan so you could convince rich people to give you money.
  • A brick-and-mortar store so you could conduct business and store your widgets.
  • An office where you could store your cheap whiskey and golf clubs.
  • A list of vendors in which you buy your supplies, flip, and then sell for a profit.

Oh, the “good old days” makes me think of Don Draper and company. Of course, you had to be unbelievably lucky to make it in the entrepreneurial world. You actually had to have someone or some company believe in your to secure a business loan/funding. Even if you could open your doors, you’d probably fall within the 90% of businesses that fail within the first year.

It’s just basic statistics, people.

Of course now, in 2021, we have all the resources, tools, and strategies in front of us to build a side-hustle business before taking the “entrepreneurial leap”.

But just because we can do this — build a side-hustle. It doesn’t mean that we will be able to scale it enough to actually build a job-quitting endeavor.

After successfully building and scaling my own side-hustle into a full-time online business where I work for myself, perform the work that fulfills me, and earn an income I know I’m deserving of — here are some of the mistakes I needed to make before I got there.

Mistake 1: They’re building the side hustle for themselves

You want the Lambo.

You want the freedom.

You want the notoriety.

You want your name on the cover of SUCCESS.

I get it.

Get in line — so do millions of other people building their own side-hustles and imagining their own dreams of success. Most people think they’re special. They think their abilities, knowledge, and skills far exceed the abilities, skills, and knowledge of others — even if science shows us otherwise.

I hate to say this — but people don’t really care about you. Well, actually, let me back up a bit. People may care about you. They may want you to be healthy and happy and well. But whenever someone is buying something, investing in something, or taking the time to consume something they’re always asking themselves one simple question,

“What’s in it for me?”

They’re always asking themselves, “why should I take the time and care about this?” “Why should I pay attention?”

A lot of content side-hustlers make the mistake that their audience is following them. Really, what your audience is doing is using your voice as a symbol for themselves. They’re using your stories, your knowledge, your ideas and applying them to their own lives. Think about any good book, what does it do? It puts the reader as the hero in the story.

Make your audience the center of the content and watch your side-hustle grow.

Mistake 2: They stop at the content

To build the argument for this mistake, we need to build off the prior one. We’ve already assumed that you’re building and creating your content for the audience. Great. Now, what many side-hustling content creators do is simply stop at the content.

Why wouldn’t they? I mean in today’s world, we’re so friggin’ lucky to literally have a content platform that pays you a redistribution for your content.

This is a fatal flaw, however, and I’ll tell you why.

I’ve been creating online content for almost 5 years now. In the first handful of years, the whole idea of a redistribution of payment for your content didn’t exist. Platforms existed just so you could get your ideas out into the world. Now, things have changed. People jumped on this gold rush and never looked back.

When the payment redistribution was introduced, it was like Heaven on Earth. Then the end of 2020 came and thousands of creators saw their metrics and earnings vanish — seemingly overnight.

I’m a paranoid wreck.

I’m not saying I’m smarter than anyone, however, I was always afraid of an “algorithmic change” on the content platforms in which I produce content. For years, I have been advocating for and practicing the strategy of merely using the content platform on which you’re producing content like that — a platform.

What you really should be doing on top of that is using the content as a vehicle for driving traffic over to a platform that you own (i.e. a site and an email list). From there — you are in complete control of the conversation and who sees the content. Whatsmore — you’re not going to change an algorithm so you lose everything overnight.

Mistake 3: They don’t experiment

It’s easy to fall into your comfort zone — especially when things are working well.

But like all creative projects — things don’t always work smoothly. That’s not to say what you’re doing right now or that is working is good — it is. What I’m trying to say, is as your side-hustle grows, so will the need for you to grow and try new things.

The creative journey is all about pivoting.

Putting my money where my mouth is — I haven’t been too active on my content platforms recently because I’m learning and practicing a new marketing strategy. I’m working with a coaching service to get my content and brand on more podcasts (don’t worry — when I accomplish and understand this strategy more, I’m going to share it with you).

Right now, in learning how to pitch podcasts, I feel like I’m getting nowhere. I feel like I’m failing. I haven’t heard anything back and the shame and imposter syndrome is creeping in.

But again, it’s about experimentation and growth. I know, deep down, that this is the right direction to go.

For you, what feels like a roadblock right now is just a lesson that isn’t fully realized.

Mistake 4: They treat it like a side-hustle

Okay, looking at that headline, you’re probably confused.

While there are some people who create and nurture a side-hustle to remain just that — a side-hustle; there are millions of others who create and grow a side-hustle with the dream that it will become something more. They believe that this side-hustle is temporary and that it will actually develop into something that will allow them to quit their day job.

Why then do all of these people treat the side-hustle like it won’t do that?

Follow me here…

When I was building my side-hustle, I was still working full-time as a server at a demanding fine-dining restaurant. On top of learning a menu, I needed to:

  • Show up early and set up.
  • Serve hundreds of guests, performing hours of exhausting physical labor.
  • Stay late (sometimes past 1 am) to clean up and shut down the restaurant.

And I still found time to wake up around 7:30 am and get to my local cafe where I would produce content (two 1,000+ word articles a day) without distraction.

Again, let’s remember that these were the days where you didn’t have the privilege of being paid by the content platform.

I’m not trying to illustrate being better than anyone, just to get a picture in your head that if you want to build something that has the legs and sustainability to be a full-fledge enterprise, you’re going to need to start acting and performing like it.

Treat the side-hustle like it’s your full-time job and the full-time job is the side-hustle and watch the two flip in performance and outcome.

Let’s recap

Building a side-hustle can lead to many things. It can help reduce some of the financial expenditures of your daily life. It can also build into something bigger, something more rewarding and more fulfilling than you could ever imagine.

However, it’s never as simple as just “starting a side-hustle” there are crucial elements you should keep in mind when doing so. If you don’t, you can make some crucial mistakes — often without even realizing it.

What are those mistakes:

  • Building the side-hustle for yourself when you should be building it first for an audience.
  • Building the content only with the content in mind when you can go beyond the content and leverage the traffic towards your site and an email list (where you can then sell proprietary products).
  • Staying in your lane and not experimenting. Building a side-hustle can result in falling into your “comfort zone.” When you do that, you stunt growth.
  • Treating the side-hustle like a side-hustle. You should treat it like you don’t have any other option. Treat the side-hustle like it’s your full-time job and the full-time job is the side-hustle and watch the two flip in performance and outcome.

When you can reduce and eliminate these mistakes, you will see the side-hustle take on a different life.

You will see it become less a side-hustle and more a full-hustle. When it becomes a full-hustle, it becomes more akin to your overall identity.

When you identify that you are capable of more and that you’re capable of controlling your own destiny with your entrepreneurial venture — you realize the only limit to your life are the limits you put on it yourself.